Notes on Evolution

1. If one chooses for ideological reasons (economics, religion, hubris, status, conformity, and combinations thereof), or simply from blind habit, to reject evolution (incorrectly reified as "Darwinism"), including suppressing or diverting the direct personal experience of change patterns, then one:
Can’t understand human nature and human behavior, both individually and collectively. Humans have adaptive-algorithm neuroanatomy; they are executers of adaptive algorithms from the Pleistocene, not “rational” analytical fitness pursuers (i.e., not “teleological”). Those adaptive algorithms are mostly of momentary import, and are capable of being combined and synthesized to present the illusion of new behaviors. There is no tabula rasa. There is no “nurture versus nature;” nurture is part of nature. Beyond a certain developmental stage, human beings don't learn, and don't want to. The habits of pursuit of status, class, and power become ingrained and automatic, with after-the-fact rationalization the only conscious aspect. Without evolution, there is no science of “human nature,” only motoric reaction, ideology, distraction, manipulation, and projection. Won’t understand the consistent patterns and vectors of governance in human societies — hierarchical, authoritarian, oligarchic, feudal — and won’t understand the place religion, class, and “breeding” have in that governance. People are born with a bias to gain social status, traditionally through deeds that were rewarded by acclaim “guided” by the elites, now through getting money that purchases power. People are bred for their place in their society, both high and low. They are bred mostly to order, or bred mostly to obey. “Reciprocal altruism” is not conscious. Will believe that “reasoned discourse” and “information” are the basis for individual, social, and political decision-making; and will find realpolitic invisible, even offensive, and deny oneself that power (abdicating to those who embrace realpolitic through the Laws of Power). Will not see the part that biology and selection have had in developing ethics and morality, and how those values are carried and reinforced biologically. A dopamine fix is pure molecular biology informed by genes and embedded in culture. We will expect all values to derive from society (“nurture”) or deity (“God”) and be written on a human tabula rasa. Will expect that simple operant conditioning will eliminate fundamental impulses. Will believe that most or even all the content of the human mind was placed on a tabula rasa by culture (“nurture”) and can be wiped clean and replaced. One will expect symbols and ideology to overpower impulse and imperative. Will believe that homosexuality is entirely an individual personal choice to be “reprogrammed” (ironic choice of phrase). Will never understand why new “boyfriends” beat up (and even kill) their new “girlfriends’” infant (and older) children; and will therefore never be able to emplace appropriate values and institutions to prevent or ameliorate that behavior. Social sanctions haven’t worked, deeper engagement is cultural, to counter the genetic. Won’t understand archetypes, which are algorithms aggregated into consistent “identity”

patterns: warrior, lover, priest, king, geezer, mother, crone, huntress, nymph, … The ancient gods as representations and distillations of these archetypes: Aphrodite, Diana, Demeter, Hera, Hecate, and so forth… Will kill all domestic animals exposed to an epidemic pathogen, rather than allow it to run its course and leave resistant survivors (and will pretend it’s to “fight” the straw-dog “disease” instead of striving to have a stronger food-chain system; and to maintain the conditioning for dependency on the Oligarchy through the Big Pharma faction. Will be hyper-hygienic as a culture (driven by fear-mongering makers of domestic- and personal-sanitation products) and seek to kill all micro-organisms rather than co-exist with them. Will believe that “germs” cause disease. Will not recognize that the human-body cellcount is 90% bacteria and other micro-organisms and 10% human cells. Will not recognize the ecology of the human body in its larger environmental ecology. Will not believe in the complex and subtle equilibria that maintains a healthy system, and will develop no skillful means for optimizing that system. Just as there’s no sense of evolution, there’s no sense of co-evolution. Will invest in poisons to kill micro-organisms (and will sell those poisons) but not in healthy resistance to disease (at the systems level in the ecosystem - next holon up) which will require fewer such poisons. Because of the expectation that organisms (and systems) are “static,” will always fall behind evolving organisms and systems (but making money and building power in a general climate of fear that factions hype)... Will always be late in generating vaccines to fast-changing pathogens (but will sell them anyway; and suppress knowledge of their ineffectiveness and outright toxicity). Will express ulterior motives in recognizing and pursuing political value from the results of that toxicity. Will develop a “war” model for “health care” (which is actually “sick care”). Insurance is not health care. Profit-center insurance inevitably becomes sick care. Will extend that “war” metaphor throughout society… Will not recognize that there are no internal limiters in Homo; the only limitations are external, and we will continue until the planet, the system, wherever you want to draw the boundary, imposes its natural-law limits on us. The limits are in the system, but we narcissists can barely take our eyes off ourselves. For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. Richard Feynman. There has never been a need for nature (that system) to make species limit themselves; that would be one fatal ability that would destroy the driving force behind evolution — overshoot and winnowing give us selection, and nature always enforces limits inherent in the system. Will fail to recognize environmental and biological and cultural change that does not originate in our choices and actions (see above). This is partly narcissism, partly realpolitic, partly generational inertia, and partly ideology (abstractions, reifications) at play. This conditioning is very exploitable: AGW again. Corporate sociopathology without human values. Will fail to recognize that human beings did not evolve to avert or avoid resource shortages, environmental crises, and population pressures; our ancestors evolved to survive them by attacking (and killing) their competing neighbors, and taking their resources. It was nature that evolved as a system to regulate populations, and it does that ruthlessly.

Will not understand that species themselves are less important as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem than the potential for speciation in a coherent and ever-changing “punctuated equilibrium” ecosystem. Will seek to prevent change, instead of prevent toxicity and massive disruption beyond systems’ resilience while shepherding (or “husbanding”) change; or, in other words, protecting the integrity of the process of change rather than its result at any one time. Will seek to prevent or intervene in or even “fix” complex systems disorders such as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in bees, instead of seeking to identify the entire synergistic process and support its survivors so they can thrive. Will obsess about polar-bear extinction (from AGW), and not recognize the continuous iceage-cyclic dynamic between polar and grizzly bears. Will totally mis-conceive “Junk DNA,” and miss its role as a library of pre-adapted modules for dynamic (and even cyclic) adaptation and speciation (and re-adaptation and respeciation-with-variations) processes. Will seek to freeze or disrupt the evolutionary process (that must not exist) in time, to preserve the current Homo as the “crown of creation” for its “Rapture.” Will hamper or even cripple one’s other basic systems-awareness insights. Experiencing and describing evolution is a manifestation of trans-disciplinary whole-systems awareness. If we fail to recognize and apply evolution, we won’t understand how things are connected functionally and through time. We will have a fundamentally superficial and irrelevant worldview, narrow and linear. Examples: “Chaos Math” and complex non-linear open systems with emergent properties and events (at least Tipping Points is out there...). Organisms and systems evolve. Behavior drives form. Psychology drives morphology. Complexity integrates as systems evolve. The more complicated systems are, the more slowly they will change (evolve) and the more vulnerable they are to sudden cascading instability and even collapse, in avalanching “punctuated equilibria.” Systems and interoperability; dynamic matrices and flows versus static constructs (e.g., the three-body problem). Great difficulty to integrate net energy, human nature, and realpolitic to accomplish a sustainable polity in a healthy commons. Holarchy versus hierarchy, holons and tiers versus contained elements and levels; reliance on the inner/older/more-protons/less-electrons/more-material/less virtual. Holarchy example: E.F. Shumacher's primary, secondary, and (now) tertiary goods and “economies.” See file Intersection.ppt. Also ambiguous IT “layers” analogy: netware-hardware-firmware-softwaremeatware…

2. If one must, for whatever reasons, believe that nature is teleological, then one will think that form drives function. Since nature is not teleological, function drives form, since function determines outcomes.
Nature and evolution operate in the present moment. Nature does not evolve “in order to” accomplish something in the future, but to succeed at some immediate challenge. The goalorientation of religion and social philosophy drives us to project that onto nature. This is perhaps the most-common error that most people who accept (or “believe in”) evolution make about it, and one of the most insidious.

In biology, and now in society, we see that morphology is driven by behavior, not the other way around. There are close interactions, but basically and predominately, behavior in every present moment drives the evolution of form. Functional requirements “inform” form. The structural support form provides for the success of some behaviors over others promotes the reproduction of that form, and both behavior and structure are stored in the genes. Genes are behavioral determinants interacting in subtle and complex ways with environmental cues, biological cues, cultural cues, social cues, and even personal cues. Epigenetics. Individual and group selection. Algorithmic behaviors at the personal and group levels. Evolution happens through many mechanisms, natural selection being only the principal one. That evolution happens is not Darwin’s theory of evolution (evolution is not a theory, it is a fact); “Natural Selection” is Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, his hypothesis of how evolution happens, its principal means. The Hand of God might be one other mechanism, with natural selection its manifestation or “means.” Give us a falsifiable hypothesis on this or make this an entirely separate conversation from “science,” and just practice politics separately (see below, on pop evolution).

3. There are a gazillion more examples...
These algorithmic behaviors have tended to work adequately (as always, we can muddle through), but as complexity is increasing, and everything is speeding up, are they sufficiently responsive and still adaptive? Oversimplification drives false dichotomies. The next generation will do better at all this, but will there be time for grace? Can we (as individuals and as dynasties) get out of the way? Science ideology example: uniformitarian versus catastrophist; a false dichotomy, for both actually run in parallel. The notion of “punctuated equilibrium” recognizes the diverse (and constantly changing) power spectrum of natural and human cycles of change. Existential-dilemma example: cognitive abstractions versus direct experience (dancing electrons versus dancing protons). The authoritian-versus-gnostic dissonance in human societies is a manifestation of this, and the reified and objectified abstractions the principal tool of authoritarians. Popular-culture example: in science, the term “evolution” means primarily biological evolution by (neo)Darwinian natural selection acting in individuals and groups. In popular culture, “evolution” has a much broader meaning, blurring out to mean any presumably “progressive” and purposeful change, from the cosmic Big Bang to social macro-dynamics of recent human history. As a quasi-neutral synonym for “progress” or “development,” evolution is all that some set or sets of believers have interpreted as “progressive” or “upward” movement, desirable to them and their values. Pop-evolutionism is a remnant of the Nineteenth Century’s myth of progress, still well and alive in the beginning of the Twenty-First Century, because the myth of some vague “historical progress” is a central meta-narrative of fundamental Pleistocene hunter-gatherer tribal power dynamics with its still-dominant feudal (hierarchical) social realities, and growth-predicated “economics” in industrial societies. Many contemporary (post-modern) thinkers, from advocates of the “universe story” to integral theorists, subscribe to an untestable teleological notion of “progressive evolution” in which humans represent the emerging consciousness of a cosmos unfolding to some identifiable and a-priori-purposeful

end (an end, ironically, that has resulted in contemporary humanity and its institutions glorified as the “crown of creation,” as though no more change were to occur). In practice, this is not science, but teleological posivitism and theological politics. The science term “evolution” can’t be arbitrarily transferred from Darwinian biology to other domains and carry any useful meaning, especially if it is not explicitly re-defined for that different context — which never happens, so the participants in this conversation are all talking in circles around each other’s words and projections. It is post-post-modern thinking that will erode this impasse.

Alexander Carpenter 305 Sovereign Lane Santa Rosa, California 95401 USA alexander@nmci.com

Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau

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